Raccoon Creek Rock Festival

Raccoon Creek Rock Festival

Raccoon Creek Rock Festival

at Livingston Gymnasium indoor track of
Denison University
November 6, 7, & 8, 1969
1969 festival #47

Presented by the Denison Campus Government Association, the Racoon Creek Rock Festival was one of the smaller festivals of 1969, but a festival nonetheless.  Held indoors at the school’s Livingston Gymnasium indoor track (it was November and it was Ohio, after all).

This is one of those festivals about which not much is known. I’ve tried to contact the Denison newspaper, but received no response. I did find a school newspaper edition from just before the event. It’s humorous to me how the article’s headline described the event as featuring “Six Name Groups.”

Raccoon Creek Rock Festival

Raccoon v Racoon

It’s also interesting to me that the newspaper spells Raccoon with the two “c”s as it is normally spelled, but I find several spots where the second “c” is omitted. 

Raccoon Creek Rock Festival


Raccoon Creek Rock Festival


The newspaper article also fails to say specifically who would play on Friday, yet one of the posters does specify.

The Who and Owen B were scheduled for Thursday. The article also notes that “The English group has produced many hit singles including “Magic Bus,” “Pinball Wizard,” and “I’m Free.”

The article then states that The Spirit (I have only seen them referred to as simply Spirit) and The Dust (ditto) would play on Saturday.  The day is a typo and should read Friday as the article continues and states that Johnny Winter, Lycidas, and The Dust would appear on Saturday (also) to complete the 3-day festival.

Raccoon Creek Rock Festival

Johnny “Everywhere” Winter

Winter, it is noted, “performs a variety of interpretations of black vernacular and a wide range of black instrumental approaches.”

Good to know.

Raccoon Creek Rock Festival

Raccoon Creek Rock Festival


The writer seems to be somewhat unfamiliar with the line-up, but has the same worries expressed by all who would be in the range of a 1969 festival. After mentioning that there had been outside interest in the event (“as far away as upstate New York”) they go on to say: “We’re expecting to turn people away, but we hope the Denison campus will still be one peaceful community during the festival.”

Raccoon Creek Rock Festival

Raccoon Creek Rock Festival

Great price points

The Who on Thursday cost a ticket-buyer $3.50. The lesser known Spirit only $2.50, but back up a touch for Johnny Winter’s Saturday appearance to $3.00. Student could purchase all three nights for $8.00, a savings of $1.

Raccoon Creek Rock Festival

Looking for more

Thank you to those who have commented below. If anyone else  has any information about the festival, I’d love to hear from you.

Raccoon Creek Rock Festival

Next 1969 festival: Palm Beach Pop Festival

21 thoughts on “Raccoon Creek Rock Festival”

  1. The Who:
    Raccoon Creek Rock Festival, Livingston Gymnasium Indoor Track, Denison University
    Granville Ohio. (November 6, 1969).
    They went on to play at Athens on the 7th then St. Louis on the 8th the next two days.
    The source was listed as the history of Johnny Winter:
    I can reduce and copy over the poster but I can’t move it/copy to your site etc.
    Haven’t been able to find anything else yet.

  2. Was a Freshman at Denison that year before flunking out in December and almost ending up in ‘Nam. Attended all 3 days, and details are foggy from time and too much 3.2 beer, but remembering sitting on dirt floor of field house. Sat right in front of the Who; couldn’t hear for days!! Remember Spirit’s bald drummer, older gent. Remembering Johnny Winter as a manic guitar player; non stop boogie and loud!! Pretty amazing concert for small college!! Was at Pocono Rock Festival in ’72 (?) if you need further info on that.

    1. Thank you for this addition! If you are still in touch w anyone else who was there, connect them to the piece so they can comment, too. Slim pickings for most of the ’69 festivals.

  3. My roommate was co-social director for Denison that year. We had something like a $24k budget for the year and blew it all on one weekend. Something like 4 or 5 even 6 bands each night – including local DU band who got to play Santana tunes in front of a MAJOR crowd (and they WERE good! – biggest gig of their career). Held in a tin quansut hut indoor track – yes with dirt floor – but only the musicians complained of sound quality – we were oblivious. Who was free on that Thurs nite on their initial Tommy Tour and we got them at a discount – $4,600. In the end the weekend broke even – losing $100 – less than a keg party would’ve cost. Someone can calculate approx attendance. Townsend played with 102 fever but you wouldn’t have known it (from the mosh pit – which didn’t have that label at the time). Daltry was in his fringe vest bare chest days. Set list around Tommy is well known from many ’69 live recordings released since. After party at local HoJo’s Roger stayed behind with Pete, but Ent and Moonie found the school party room at the hotel and stayed til nearly dawn. John was one of the most normal down-to-earth guys you’d want to meet. Spirit arrived for their Fri nite gig and popped into the hotel doorway – five heads one above the next – announcing arrival in 5-part harmony. Randy California and entourage. They were big at the time with Nature’s Way among other hits from first two albums. What went on in Moonie’s room AFTER the party broke up – stays in Hojo’s! Never met Johnny Winter but “JW And” was a hot album in ’69… R&R Hoochie Coo – with Rick Derringer also on guitar (formerly w/ the McCoys). I DO remember the football coach was really upset with so many long-hairs camping outside his office doors in the indoor track for the 3 days… we attracted a good crowd (numbers unknown by me) from all over Great Lakes region. We had radio ads playing in Cleveland and WLS in Chicago prior to the show. I still have my 3 tickets stashed in a “been there/heard that” box. Raccoon spelled with 2 C’s – on the ticket – was the creek that runs through Granville Ohio. We had to call it SOMETHING different! After almost 50 years I have to agree with previous writer – other details get hazy. But then it was hazy even then! But no on inhaled…

    1. THANK YOU for your memories. There isn’t much about the event (at least as far as I’ve been able to find). I tried to contact the school newspaper asking whether they had back issue articles about the event (before and/or after). but never got a reply.

      1. Don’t know where you’d actually find the full band list at this stage. Nothing that finite in the 1970 yearbook. And with paper to digital evolution it’s no surprise a student newspaper wouldn’t have 1969 archives. Probably 15 to 18 groups total played across the 3 nights – many regional Ohio/Midwest groups and groups known personally by key students in the planning group, with the 5 or 6 you’ve noted topping the bill.

    2. i did not know that about my dad (football coach) i happened to be grounded for that event… lived all but 200 yards away, could hear everything… probably the most disappointing weekend of my high school career as all of my friends were there… i was able to exact some revenge sneaking out of the house for a few fraternity parties until i finally got caught stuffing my bed with pillows a la` alcatraz.

  4. I just stumbled upon this site and thought I’d add my two cents worth.
    I was from the NYC area and a sophomore at Denison in 1969. I was also a big Who and Spirit fan, and attended all three nights. I’d say that many underclassmen were pretty excited about the “festival”, but the majority of upperclassman had little knowledge of The Who and none whatsoever of Spirit and Johnny Winter. The fact that the college paper was basically clueless is not a big surprise. My hat is off to those that booked the bands, however, and the $4600 figure for The Who is what I remember hearing at the time. I had friends from as far away as Tufts, Lafayette, Bucknell, and Middlebury come for the weekend, so the word had been passed around somehow. I only recall one opening band each night, local band Owen B opened for The Who and were passable, Dust (hyped as “from L.A.”) opened the next two nights and were rather tedious. The Who did their typical set at the time, opening with “Heaven and Hell” and “Can’t Explain” and doing a terrific version of “Young Man Blues” before they moved into “Tommy”, pretty much in its entirety. They closed with “Magic Bus” and “My Generation”. The concerts were held in the Denison Field House, which was, as Vince Hope pointed out, basically a large Quonset hut, with an indoor track and a dirt floor (hey, early festival seating). Pete Townshend made a sarcastic crack about never having played in a garbage can before, but if they thought they were playing to a bunch of hicks, it didn’t show as the performance was really quite good, was very well received, and featured a bit of modest guitar and drum destruction at the end. Coincidentally, three of us drove to NYC a few weeks later to see The Who perform “Tommy” at the Fillmore East, and it was an identical set list, albeit with a much better sound system and an extraordinary King Crimson opening. The second night of the RCRF Dust opened, and the fact I remember almost nothing about them other than wishing they would get off the stage, probably sums up my reaction to them. Spirit was excellent, as they always were. I recall them opening with “Dark Eyed Woman” and “Apple Orchard” from “Clear” and then doing the bulk of their first two albums with a very long version of “Mechanical World”. I thought that Jay Ferguson might hurt himself as he humped his congas. I don’t think they did anything from Dr. Sardonicus, but I believe they did “1984”, which I certainly had never heard before. I’m not sure if they did “Taurus”, but Led Zeppelin still stole that riff (unrelated editorial comment). Spirit was a criminally underrated live band, and they were very good that night. I think we made a concerted effort to miss Dust the third night, but caught the end of their set… yawn. I wasn’t a big fan, but Johnny Winter put on a terrific show. I didn’t know it was Rick Derringer playing the second lead, but he also had brother Edgar playing with him on sax and keyboards. It was a nice end to three nights of good shows from very good bands. I still have a handbill from the Racoon Creek Rock Festival and Racoon is spelled with one “C”. By the way, Vince Hope’s roommate borrowed my fringe jacket for The Who concert and put a nice rip in it. He still owes me, 49 years later. Denison was a pretty small school and might not have been the hot bed of festivals, but in my four years there we had, in addition to the above three bands, BB King, James Cotton, The James Gang, Pure Prairie League, McKendree Spring, Traffic, Mountain, The J Geils Band, Blues Image, Rhinoceros, The Bob Seger System (this was the loudest band I ever heard), Fairport Convention, and The Mark-Almond Band all play on campus, not to mention The Ohio Express, who, in a true Spinal Tap moment, claimed to have changed their name to January in an attempt to free themselves from their bubble gum image. It didn’t work, and the 50 people watching them were comatose until they broke into “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”. With so many small schools nearby, Kenyon, Ohio Wesleyan, Wooster, Oberlin, etc. we also got to see the Duane-led Allman Brothers three times, Poco, The Byrds, James Taylor, The Youngbloods, Steppenwolf, The Moody Blues, Van Morrison, and the Grateful Dead to name a few. Not bad for sleepy central Ohio.
    As an aside, I visited a friend at Ohio University in Athens in the Spring of 1973, and they had a festival there. Blood, Sweat, & Tears were probably the best known band at the time, but two of the other bands were destined for much bigger and better things, The Eagles, and then Bruce Springsteen, who was not yet well known and tore the place apart.

    1. I lived in Newark and went to a lot of shows at Dennison, two of my favorites, during that time period were Mountain and Meatloaf. Both put on great shows, the crowd was very large also.
      Later, 1990, phish played in the living room of the Beta Theta Pi house.

    2. J – My roommate – George – is beyond payback for your fringe jacket (and I remember that Daltry look he had). Passed away many years ago, from a hard lived life – evidently.

      And Bruce – cool to hear your perspective from younger teen yrs. I played for your dad but just for a few weeks pre-season freshman year, until the freshman girls arrived for orientation… somehow a 9pm curfew didn’t make sense at that point.

    3. Hi Vince,
      I’m helping to prepare some stuff for our 50th reunion at Denison in June. Do you know the names of the social chairs in 1969? It was quite a feat to pull off the Raccoon Creek Rock Festival where I too sat on the dirt floor of Livingston Gymnasium all 3 nights. My hearing is still pretty good thankfully other than being somewhat selective when my wife talks. Thanks!
      Paul Cummings

    4. Your ability to recall all of this stuff is VERY IMPRESSIVE! Are you not making any of it up as I can’t remember nearly as much as you and I was a freshman watching all three nights from Livingston’s dirt floor, and I wasn’t consuming mass quantities of 3.2 beer or anything else that night. Way to go!

  5. Jim, from what I’ve read and from my understanding the Who had to be super pressured (keeping Townsend up all night) to stay in America and do the show in Bethal at Woodstock.
    I have read that they as a group were tired and wanted to go back to England for a bit of a rest.
    Can you fill in the blanks here? This means that they went home fatigued after Woodstock but was back on the tour trail a couple of months later. I mean what happened? Did they need the money, a months rest was enough? Couldn’t find anything closer to home? Just trying to figure out what offs behind it all’s

    1. I’ll look around, but at this point I don’t know the answer to your question. I do know that they were much younger and as we all remember recovery time was far less than, let’s say, nowadays. 

      1. I was a 17-year-old broke Columbus art student. I panhandled for the admission price to Johnny Winters’ show. We are all sitting in a skinny hall, waiting to enter the fieldhouse, our backs against the walls and our legs in between the the opposite person’s legs. Three men walk down the hall toward the fieldhouse, stepping over our legs. When they pass me, I jump up and become the fourth man. We walk right into the fieldhouse door. I didn’t know what to do next so I went into the nearest door, which was a locker room and there stood Johnny Winter all by himself. After gathering myself I said,” Mr. Winter, can I take your picture?” He strikes a pose but my Instamatic camera doesn’t work. He comes over and our foreheads are almost touching as we try to fix it. His hair gets caught in the camera and he stutter jerks his hair out. He strikes another pose and I cherish that picture today.

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